I like ATX, but the CCH - ATX tax software wastes time on initial startup. It takes far too long, due to excessive prompts and updating, each time it starts. It also stops you from doing anything else, during this time, by repeatedly bringing you back to its glacial startup window.
ATX tax software startup especially wastes time for network users. Use a login already in use and it exits, instead of letting correct your mistake. It also often does not release user locks when users exit. We got a 12-step fix this, which requires everyone to exit, only after many calls to ATX support.
ATX tax software wasted much more time recently, when the 12 step fix did not work. It took a multi-level support call, plus ATX remote access. They found a user with a system clock set ahead. The strange thing is that there was an equal set-ahead the day before. However, there was a lock out as soon as the few hour difference caused one user to be in a different month. Now that is weird programming. It also was weird that this locked us out, without appropriate messages. However, it may relate to an something I learned from ATX support. ATX tax software must waste time on security because of an IRS contract. That means ATX cannot react very quickly or effectively in this area. It also means IRS may waste little time if it wants to access tax data for a CPA practice. That is especially sad, because one IRS tax notice calculated a different tax.
ATX tax software wastes more time with about six-inches of manuals, which no one seems to read. It wastes far more time with the MyATX support site. This site makes getting help extremely difficult. Despite having no confidential tax data, it has many time wasting security delays. Less than half of us now use the slow Internet Explorer 6+ browsers it requires. ATX tax software also wastes time because MyATX requires a customer number, user name and password. You can only reset a password with your user name and first job location. The worst way ATX tax software wastes time is by having MyATX lock you out, after you fail on three login attempts, even when ATX has no tech support.
MyATX also makes ATX tax software waste time by making you keep changing passwords over time. You cannot use prior passwords. You cannot even see any of the many password limiting rules until you violate some of them (one rule at a time). I never saw rules like some of these elsewhere, in 50 years of heavy computer use.
MyATX even makes ATX tax software waste time by not having tech-support backed user-to-user forums. I finally got Intuit to provide such forums, which give users better answers faster. Intuit soon found this let it cut around one-seventh of staff. A major international award soon followed.
Instead, informed ATX users rely on the forums provided by the volunteer ATXcommunity site, with no help from CCH - ATX. Of course, the lack of a good, readily available ATX support site makes it much harder for users to get meaningful help, with or without serach engines. This vastly increases the number of expensive time-wasting support calls. There is no extra charge for unlimited calls and related remote support, so I would think that ATX would try harder to avoid them. I also would think ATX would minimize the agonizing time wasting switches between Level 1 and Level 3 support (I never heard any mention of Level 2). However, there is no option for time saving call backs or email support.
ATX tax software wastes lots of time by having many missing cross references for calculated fields. We often spend excessive time finding source fields, especially if we must call support. ATX software even wasted time by improperly rebuilding an e-file database after a server crash. The sad thing is that they had the missing information, but could not update our system or let us do so.
Separate inconsistent client databases are a big waste of CPA and staff time. They make many errors far more likely. One very sad way ATX tax software wastes time is by not letting add-on programs access its database. I do not want read-write access, which could corrupts data. However, there are endless ways we can be more efficient if we have read-only access. For example, we should be able to mail-merge ATX data to fill in the same IRS Form 2848 Power of Attorney for all clients. Instead, staff must tie up one of our few ATX licensed computers, to open 300+ separate client tax files. They then must open a 2848 form in each client file. Next, they must cut and paste 10+ separate items, from two Word files, into each 2848. They also must manually enter client data, for each new client, into our Outlook, billing, workflow and QuickBooks programs.
Acttally, ATX lets you export much of its data to Excel. However, I made the mistake of repeatedly asking a top ATX exec about this, instead of asking tech support. As a result, I did not learn of this ATX capability for 18 months. Who knew?
ATX did not learn from Intuit and QuickBooks regarding add-ons. Intuit was once rather hostile to QuickBooks add-ons. However, there were 25,000 download the first day it made its interface program available. Nine years later, nine million web pages seem to have QuickBooks add-ons links.
As a former ATX Advisory Council member, I am now anxiously awaiting the new ATX. It should have no recycled code, which is a big change, since many ATX problems relate to its spreadsheet origin. However, it also is like buying a new car during its first model year. Buyer beware!
4/23/13: It has now been more than two years since I became very unhappy with ATX and switched to Drake Software (professional tax software). Drake Software is an amazing fast program. Drake Softare also has amazingly fast support (9 seconds, all year, no need for help from extra people), at an amazing $1,500 price for very fast speed, very easy instictive data entry, unlimited users, unlimited computers, unlimited support, unlimited e-file, networking and very good document management that you soon will use for all your files. Drake Software even has web links to $10 and $20 consumer program that pays you 80% commissions.
As a result, Drake Software has incredibly better user ratings compared to ATX (150+% as expensive), Intuit ProSeries / Proline (300% as expensive), Intuit Lacerte (500% as expensive), UltraTax (400% as expensive) and all other professional rax programs.